The Pakistan Institute of Labor Research and Education (PILER), a non-profit organization,is being targeted in a smear campaign. This is being done by the “invisible forces” inside Pakistan, through a certain TV channel, the content of which is aired by other television channels.

As a part of this smear campaign, the PILER has been labeled as an agent of RAW, the Indian Intelligence Agency, and as an organization funded directly from India.

Labeling a Pakistani non-profit organisation as one based on Indian funding has been done to create havoc for the volunteers and particularly the laborers associated with the organisation.

Recently, the PILER published a statement, which is reproduced here:

“This is with reference to the current smear campaign against PILER initiated by a private TV channel 92 HD which has alleged that ‘PILER has been working through the funds received from RAW’.

“PILER, since its inception in 1982, has aimed to promote a democratic and effective labor movement.

“PILER is registered itself under the Companies Ordinance, 1984. The PILER Board comprises distinguished and well-known legal experts, academics, development practitioner and media person, including Justice (Rtd.) Majida Rizvi, Justice (Rtd.) Rasheed A. Rizvi, Dr. Saba Gul Khattak, Dr. Jaffer Ahmed, Dr. Riaz Ahmed, Mohammad Tahseen and Sheen Farrukh.

“During the last 33 years, PILER has been supported financially by a number of international organizations from the European Union, the USA and Australia. Now we come to our present concern which is a report by TV Channel 92 HD aired on Nov 21,  2015 evening and subsequently highlighted by a section of print media. According to this mala fide and malicious report, PILER is a ‘RAW agent’. According to the mala fide report, this ‘fact’ has been revealed by a ‘…report of the Intelligence and Investigation Unit, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).”

“It is to be noted that the FBR has not shared this or any other report or document with PILER and neither it has approached PILER with any query till today. The report by 92 HD is based on false allegations and twisted facts as explained below:

“Allegation No. 1: TV channel 92 HD said that ‘The Indian High Commissioner supervises PILER affairs. He himself visited PILER office.’

“PILER Response: It is absolutely incorrect that the Indian High Commissioner ‘supervises PILER affairs’. The Indian High Commissioner is a foreign diplomat and has nothing to do with PILER. It is true that the Indian High commissioner visited PILER, but only on one specific occasion, on Feb 4, 2014. The channel deliberately omitted the context of the visit. Here it is: High Commissioner of India in Islamabad, Dr. T. C. A. Raghavan, was invited by PILER to the Plaque Unveiling Ceremony in February 2014. The event was organized to dedicate a block of PILER Centre to Didi Nirmala Deshpande (1929-2008) who was a Member of the Indian Rajya Sabha (upper house), a well-known social activist and a dedicated advocate of peace between two countries i.e. India and Pakistan. Didi Nirmala Deshpande was admired in Pakistan because of her message of love and advocate of people-to-people contact.

“It is to be noted that Nirmala Deshpande was posthumously conferred the ‘Sitara-e-Imtiaz’, Pakistan’s second highest civilian award, for promoting peace between the two countries on 23 March 2010. Nirmala Deshpande, who died on May 1, 2008, was honoured for her contribution in promoting peace and friendship between India and Pakistan.

“Allegation No. 2: “Ms. Farhat Fatima, a PILER’s employee, is receiving money from a state hospital in Jharkand.”

“PILER Response: PILER refutes this allegation vehemently. Ms. Farhat Fatima, PILER Research Associate, is not receiving money from any state hospital in Jharkand, India. The truth is as follow: In 2013, PILER was approached by the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, to facilitate collection of material on labour in Pakistan.

“In April 2013 PILER signed a contract with the International Institute for Social History to facilitate its South Asia Desk for the collection of material on labour history from Pakistan. PILER assigned Ms. Farhat Fatima the responsibility. PILER was paid remuneration for this responsibility for 2 days a week from April 2013 up to December 2014 by the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, on instruction from Dr. Kathinka Sinha-Kerkhoff, the International Institute of Social History South Asia Regional Representative who was stationed in Ranchi, Jharkand. The regional office in India is located in the premises of the Central Institute of Psychiatry, Kanke, Ranchi, Jharkand, where Dr. Kathinka’s husband works. The document clearly showed that the grant money was sent by the Institute of International Social History, Amsterdam, to PILER, and not by Dr. Kathinka Sinha-Kerkhoff, who herself is an employee of the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam.

“Allegation No. 3: PILER is receiving funds from Indian NGOs.

“PILER Response: This is incorrect. PILER is not receiving funds from Indian NGOs. The Indian NGOs, like other NGOs in the developing countries, themselves receive funds from the NGOs in the western countries and are not in a position to fund foreign NGOs.

“The fact is that PILER has contributed thrice to regional research studies, focusing on Pakistan, undertaken by HomeNet South Asia (HNSA), a network of home-based workers in South Asian countries of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The head office of the network is located in Delhi, India. PILER is a member of both HomeNet South Asia and HomeNet Pakistan. PILER received service charges for these one-time research contributions from HomeNet South Asia, Delhi, India.

“Allegation No.4: TV channel 92 HD maliciously referred to PILER’s ‘receiving money from Global South’.

“PILER Response: PILER is not receiving funds from Global South. The facts are as follow: The Focus on Global South head quartered in Thailand, is a network established in 1995 to challenge neoliberalism, militarism and corporate-driven globalisation while supporting just and equitable alternatives. PILER is not a member of Focus on Global South. PILER aligns with its ideology and supports its mission. PILER is a member of Peoples SAARC network which organizes parallel civil society event to official SAARC summits. PILER facilitates Pakistan delegation’s participation to these events. Global South provided donations for air travel of Pakistan delegation to the Peoples SAARC parallel meeting held in Dhaka in 2012.

“This campaign, aimed at damaging the reputation, good will and trust created by PILER through 33 years of hard work, commitment and tangible services to labor and development, is an attack on the entire civil society of Pakistan and all its national and grass-roots organizations who are striving for a just, equitable and peaceful development.

“PILER has filed a legal notice to the TV channel 92 HD. It is now sending a letter to the Federal Board of Revenew , demanding access to the said ‘report’ and related documents it shared with the channel. PILER, supported by civil society organization across Pakistan, political parties’ representatives and concerned citizens, demands setting up of the Parliamentary Committee to investigate the mala fide report and put to task the channel 92 HD.”